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Years Go By
We’d always meet at that park. You know, the one with the rusty metal slide and those homemade goal posts we made with metal poles that summer some years ago. Maybe we’d go hang out at the mall, or maybe we’d wonder around the streets, hoping to find something unknown to us.
Sometimes we’d hang out in the park and you’d tell me about how your boyfriend and how you had just broken up, or how your dad only lets you see him once a month now. Sometimes you’d bring a friend and try to ‘hook me up’, and I’d respectfully decline and you’d always ask me why I don’t want a girlfriend and I would just smile and say ‘dunno’.
The next day you’d call me gay, or tease me about how I’m not manly enough for a guy, and I’d laugh and call you names I don’t mean. Sometimes you’d laugh with me, sometimes you’d start crying and run off, and I’d call myself an idiot for being so insensitive.
Years would go by, and we’d visit the park less. Girlfriends would go as quickly as they came, and school would become more important. You’d leave school early, saying it doesn’t ‘offer you anything’ and I’d just smile and say ‘How about that.’.
One day bulldozers and cranes would arrive and destroy our goal posts and that rusty metal slide, and you’d swear and cry and I’d try and hold you back from punching the construction workers in the face.
Our time together would get reduced to phone calls. Sometimes you’d call and I’d be reading, and you’d call me a nerd and I’d call you an idiot, and we’d laugh together. You‘d tell me how you‘d found love, and I‘d stop feeling that pang of sadness I used to get when you told me stuff like that.
You’d get a job as an apprentice hairdresser, and I’d be studying to get a high score in the HSC. You’d ask me what I was doing at school, and I’d say a bunch of stuff about law I knew you wouldn’t understand, and you wouldn’t care and you‘d say ‘So how long does that usually take?’ Or ‘I‘m sure it‘s not as difficult as you‘re making it out to be.’.
I’d graduate high school and you’d come to my graduation ceremony and you’d run up and hug me in front of everyone and I’d get embarrassed and blush and you’d laugh and call me cute. We’d promise to visit each other more often.
I’d get into a law school, and you’d be hairdressing and we wouldn’t call anymore. Years would pass, and I would start to forget your face. Hearing your name wouldn’t send jolts directly into my heart anymore like it used to. I’d find ‘grown up love’ and I’d make kids and I’d make myself some money and I’d be happy.
A friend would tell me that you'd got married to a writer, and that the wedding ceremony was next week on Sunday, and I wouldn't go because my kid had a soccer match, and later I'd regret not asking my wife to go to the game so I could see you, at least one last time.
Sometimes I’d catch myself thinking about the time you set off the fire hydrant in the middle of the school and got suspended, and how we couldn’t stop laughing afterward. I’d hear from a friend that you had opened up a new hair salon, and it was successful and how you were doing well for yourself.
I’d pick my kids up from school after an important case, and I’d drop by your salon. You’d be away that day. I’d come by every day for a month. I wouldn’t meet you once. I’d stop coming by.
Years would pass, and we’d be getting older. I’d forget your face completely, new faces taking up all the space in my brain. I’d be going to important social parties with my wife, and I’d be making my way up the social ladder. I’d think about the days as a teenager and wonder how I ever came to care about stuff like this.
My kids would be adults now, and I’d finally retire. I’d forget your name now, and I’d move up into the country and buy a farm with my wife, and we’d be happy and our children would visit.
Sometimes though, I’d look up at the sky and wonder if you were out somewhere, looking up at the sky too, wondering the same thing I was wondering. I’d think back to those bright summer days, like that time when that girl broke my heart and you punched her in the face for me and got suspended, and I’d wonder how I ever forgot your name.
And I’d wonder if you forgot mine.